Ignored by American Policy Elites
By Peter Phillips
-- - -A new report (9/2/08) from The World Bank admits that
in 2005 three billion one hundred and forty million people live
on less that $2.50 a day and about 44% of these people survive
on less than $1.25. Complete and total wretchedness can be the
only description for the circumstances faced by so many,
especially those in urban areas. Simple items like phone calls,
nutritious food, vacations, television, dental care, and
inoculations are beyond the possible for billions of people.
Starvation.net logs the increasing impacts of world hunger and
starvation. Over 30,000 people a day (85% children under 5) die
of malnutrition, curable diseases, and starvation. The numbers
of unnecessary deaths has exceeded three hundred million people
over the past forty years.
These are the people who David Rothkopf in his book Superclass
calls the unlucky. “If you happen to be born in the wrong place,
like sub-Saharan Africa, …that is bad luck,” Rothkopf writes.
Rothkopf goes on to describe how the top 10% of the adults
worldwide own 84% of the wealth and the bottom half owns barely
1%. Included in the top 10% of wealth holders are the one
thousand global billionaires. But is such a contrast of wealth
inequality really the result of luck, or are there policies,
supported by political elites, that protect the few at the
expense of the many?
Farmers around the world grow more than enough food to feed the
entire world adequately. Global grain production yielded a
record 2.3 billion tons in 2007, up 4% from the year before,
yet, billions of people go hungry every day. Grain.org describes
the core reasons for continuing hunger in a recent article
“Making a Killing from Hunger.” It turns out that while farmers
grow enough food to feed the world, commodity speculators and
huge grain traders like Cargill control the global food prices
and distribution. Starvation is profitable for corporations when
demands for food push the prices up. Cargill announced that
profits for commodity trading for the first quarter of 2008 were
86% above 2007. World food prices grew 22% from June 2007 to
June 2008 and a significant portion of the increase was
propelled by the $175 billion invested in commodity futures that
speculate on price instead of seeking to feed the hungry. The
result is wild food price spirals, both up and down, with food
insecurity remaining widespread.
For a family on the bottom rung of poverty a small price
increase is the difference between life and death, yet neither
US presidential candidate has declared a war on starvation.
Instead both candidates talk about national security and the
continuation of the war on terror as if this were the primary
election issue. Where is the Manhattan project for global
hunger? Where is the commitment to national security though
unilateral starvation relief? Where is the outrage in the
corporate media with pictures of dying children and an analysis
of who benefits from hunger?
American people cringe at the though of starving children, often
thinking that there is little they can do about it, save sending
in a donation to their favorite charity for a little guilt
relief. Yet giving is not enough, we must demand hunger relief
as a national policy inside the next presidency. It is a moral
imperative for us as the richest nation in the world nation to
prioritize a political movement of human betterment and
starvation relief for the billions in need. Global hunger and
massive wealth inequality is based on political policies that
can be changed. There will be no national security in the US
without the basic food needs of the world being realized.
Peter Phillips is a professor of sociology at Sonoma State
University and director of Project Censored a media research
group. His new book Censored 2009 is now available from by Seven
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